PRESIDENT MITCHELL: Gentlemen, we are fortunate today in having to speak to us, Mr. Emery, of Washington, one of the best-informed experts on labour questions in the United States. As you will see by the notice, he has given a great deal of attention to the particular subject on which he is to speak to us. We have the good fortune, also, to have with us the Hon. Mr. Rollo, Minister of Labour in the Ontario House, (applause) and I am sure we very much appreciate his presence. During the past few weeks, as I have said, each week in succession we have had presented to us various phases of Empire affairs. Now we are back into questions that are more intimately concerned with our own immediate part of the Empire and our own immediate life. The Labour question, taken as broadly as one can take it, is undoubtedly one of the paramount questions before us as citizens and as a nation. Only yesterday did we read in the despatches from the Old Country Mr. Lloyd George's appreciation of the labour situation as it is today in Great Britain, and all of us who have read it could not
Mr. James A. Emery is a widely-known lawyer of Washington, D.C., who has specialized in industrial practice in the United States. He is Counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers of the United States, the National Industrial Council, composed of State organizations of manufacturers, and the National Founders Association. He addressed the Empire Club in 1907 on "Problems of Industry and Labour."
but be impressed with the importance of the problem which has to be worked out before things get on an even and equitable basis for the near future. I am sure you will listen with great interest to what Mr. Emery has to say and again I want to say how much we appreciate our good fortune in having him with us to speak to us today.
MR. JAMES A. EMERY
Gentlemen,--I want to take a brief interval of your time, in the hope that the subject may be worthy of reflection over a longer period. I realize that many topics comprehended within my subject are difficult of dispassionate discussion. It embraces many colliding interests, strong prejudices, opposing theories. It deals with relationships fundamental to the economic, the political, the social life of the individual. It begins with man's most intimate concern-the gaining of a livelihood-the first necessity with which he is confronted, for all men must earn their way save those few who are fortunate enough to be, in part, inheritors of the individual success of others, but even they must conserve and carry on. We face an antagonistic nature from which we must win our wants. We find among the first and most individual questions confronting us the relationship between our wants or desires and our capacity to satisfy them. The history of our race is one of continual struggle with the forces of nature which yield reluctantly to the labour, guided by the knowledge, talent, and character of man. His reward has been and ever shall be in terms of his capacity to produce and hold beyond the needs of subsistence. That is the tale of individual progress; it is the story of every race and nation. We see, too, that the direct application of individual energy gained small reward. Man sought constantly new means to multiply his own strength. He learned the nature and operation of the vast forces about him. His progress is measured by the growth and application of that knowledge. Today the forces that aroused the superstitious fears of our ancestors are the hand-maids and the bond-slaves of our comfort. We trace the material progress of our society by the growth of its power to multiply production, to build a surplus above subsistence that may be used in the development of our processes, in the experimental labour of the scientist and the inventor, the expansion of reproductive industry, the spread of the liberal arts.
Surplus wealth is an essential of economic progress not merely material life, but all the finer and nobler things of human nature are dependent on its production and conservation. Without it there is no literature nor art, nor science, nor free and liberal culture, nor the frequent monuments of organized religion. Without it we are savages pursuing the immediate support of life. Possessing it our society masters its material surroundings.
This thing in all its forms is but that capital so sharply criticized in the labour discussions of our day, a fundamental necessity if there is to be progress. (Applause) What is it but labour applied and accumulated and possessing new productive capacity? So every man is, to a large extent, the inheritor of the capital builded up by the labour of the past. He is born today into a world of aeroplanes, of swift communication, of rapid transit, of multiplied mechanical capacity for production, confining the lightning and harnessing the falling flow of the mountain stream. He finds a ferry on the ocean; the mountains pierced or levelled; the night lighted with a million suns; the air carries his whisper; a million ghostly fingers instantly obey the touch of his hand. All these are the estate of every new infant. But all this has wrought great changes in human relations.
It is a curious paradox that our very progress in multiplied capacity for production has made us individually less independent and more inter-dependent. The Europe over which the vast war raged was a very different one from that over which Napoleon marched to his Waterloo. That was a Europe of independent self-supporting agricultural communities. The Great War was waged in a Europe of inter-dependent industrial states. Victory in that war did not go to the nation with the largest population, the biggest army, the hugest natural resources. Russia possessed all of those long before she became a debating society but she could neither produce for her own needs nor distribute that with which her allies supplied her. She broke down under the test that a modern industrial society must meet-of being able to produce or procure and distribute its needs. Now, if the material prosperity of society is to depend on sustained power of production, the form of productive relationships that is economically best is most tremendously important to every element in society. Each state forms its own concept of its rights, its obligations, its ideals, its moral and economic tasks; these must translate themselves, if they be true and living forces of life, into every relationship of that society. If not, then there comes antagonism of parts, in which instead of each performing its own function in the complex structure of modern life, some element moves at variance with the whole, and we have -political and economic wreckage instead of political and economic progress. We can violate the laws that man writes, and avoid the penalty; but history, the recorded experience of man, teaches us that just as surely as individuals, groups or nations violate the natural laws of life they pay the unavoidable penalty. (Applause) The difficulty is to interpret the laws of nature and of nature's God to make clear the way.
Now, the people of your blood and mine have developed a society during a thousand years of struggle to secure the recognition and perpetuation of something they believed a fundamental, political, moral and economic truth; and that is the inherent worth, dignity and nobility of the individual life and that the individual is the dynamo of social progress. No great movement in society went forward except an individual led, stimulated or inspired it. As the French say, "Seek the Woman" we say, "Seek the Man"-he is at the bottom of every progress. Our political institutions were established in order that our state created by man might serve its only purpose as his agent in preserving and perpetuating the rights which our fathers believed essential to the forward movement of the races. They believed that if the individual were stimulated to do his best by a hope of secure participation in the fruit of his efforts, that he would make the most of himself for those dependent upon him and in doing so must inevitably advance the society of which he was a part. (Hear, hear) That theory has been practically tested by generations of successful life. We have applied it not only to the men of our race, but to every blood on earth that sought our shore, and through the operation of these principles we have developed through the centuries the material and political progress we enjoy.
Now, if these things are true then any theory that has to do with the co-operation of men in production and distribution of wealth must reflect those principles, political and economic, or it cannot be Canadian, and it is not American. They are the acid test of worth. Now, what is the employment relation? It is a contractual relation between management and men engaged in rendering a service or producing a commodity. The parties can be paid only out of what they jointly produce. Nothing is more certain than this: if they don't put in they can't take out. (Applause)
Now, all are under the necessity of earning a livelihood. Out of this necessity arises two fundamental rights. One is that every man is entitled to select and pursue any lawful occupation or business. The other, that he is entitled to advance his interest by entering into any lawful agreement with others which they are willing to make with him free from molestation or arbitrary interference. For civil liberty, as men of our blood have understood and practiced it, is that a man is to have the power-not merely the right, because men may have a right and not be permitted to exercise it-to work out his temporal salvation as he sees his interest, restrained only by his conscience and by equal, just, and impartial law under representative institutions. (Hear, hear) And not only are these fundamental rights of liberty, but, when exercised in the selection of an occupation or calling, or the making of a contract, they become his most sacred property for they are the levers for the upward lift of life.
"Ah, but"-you tell me-"men don't start equally". Of course they don't. You cannot have liberty and economic equality, because men vary in every physical, mental and moral quality. The moment they begin to exercise liberty they create inequality. It does not assist our discussion at all to say that we are after "economic equality", or "social equality", or by whatever phrase you undertake to describe the desire to equalize men. You can't do it. (Hear, hear) That is the reply of nature. Those who persist in such an unnatural purpose would destroy in the individual all that our institutions were established to protect. (Hear, hear) What injustice is greater than a proposal to reward equally unequal men? What proposal could be socially more hurtful than one to reduce all the contributing agents of society to a common level? The contributions of a single individual have lifted the whole level of the race, at times, more than all the efforts of his fellows over a decade. The great inventions that revolutionized the control of man over nature, that made possible all these tremendous agencies that are at our disposition today, always originated through an individual somewhere. He who has the greatest stake in the preservation of free effort stimulated by hope of reward is the man at the bottom of the scale, because it is he that receives the greatest benefit in comfort and opportunity enlarged from the effort of such minds, wherever they work. (Applause) The way to injure the mass of men is to stop, obstruct, dam up the natural movement of those great human contributions in which all participate.
As our society has grown more complex in reaction to industrial development, men have associated together to cooperate in their work, in their play, in their worship, in their amusements, in the creation of the state, in the direction of it. No more useful tool of social advancement had been found than the co-operation of men to obtain a common object by common means. But when they do associate for that purpose they cease to be a mere aggregate of individuals. They become in terms of the power which they exercise in their relationship, either to other individuals or to the state of which they are a part, a new moral entity, a personality, which has an efficient capacity to obtain its end in exact proportion to its success in subordinating the individual will and judgment of its human elements to the common method and purpose of the organization. Such association we call a combination-the generic term-of which conspiracy is its illegal or immoral species.
Whenever men associate together they create a capacity to do good or to do harm, to help or to hurt. They establish, of necessity, power which they can use or which they can abuse. They can fashion one of the most tremendous instruments of social benefit or they can turn that power 'into one of the most dangerous weapons in the social armoury. What we are most concerned about in combinations is their nature and methods and that they shall live in subjection to the society of which they are a part. It makes no difference whether the combination is one of workers or of employers, a corporation or a labour union, it must live in subordination to the public interest. (Hear, hear) Now, if that is a criticism of any particular organization which rejects that standard, all I can say is, so much the worse for the organization. (Laughter) You cannot perpetuate institutions like ours if any group be permitted either to make itself superior to the state or an exception to the general operation of its principles of control. The moment you do so you begin to tolerate the growth of an independent and alien power, outside the sphere of political control, steadily tending to set its interest above that of the great body of society. This becomes an exceedingly serious matter as social life becomes more intricate and interdependent, as each man, under the circumstances of today, goes about his daily task, performing his specialty in the perpetuation of life, and confidently relying upon everybody else to perform his function in the social machine. What can you arid I do today to supply ourselves with food, fuel, light, heat, or transportation? Nothing, except to accumulate enough to keep us ahead of tomorrow's demand. We are dependent upon agencies that we have created or patronize and upon the uninterrupted and efficient operation of which the continuity of our life and its very character have become dependent. Society, as a matter of self-defence, therefore, possesses not only the right, but the obligation to control its agencies in the public interest. The public interest, while a clearly-affirmed abstract principle, must be defined in terms of the circumstances of the day, because, while that interest is always the same in the sense that society is defending and conserving its life, conditions to be met vary. Hence, law, to be a living and efficient rule of conduct, must be able to meet those changing circumstances, and sufficiently elastic in principle to meet them all.
These descriptive phrases we so frequently fling around in social discussion do not mean much unless we can translate them into something practical. A man is called a Radical or a Conservative. Just imagine George Eliot's "Felix Holt, the Radical" today! He would be a hopeless reactionary. We need Radicals, if Radicals mean those who go to the "roots" of things; but if by Radicals is meant, men impatient of social speed, who cannot always distinguish between motion and progress, they do not help, they hurt the cause they claim to serve. (Applause) But, returning to a consideration of association of effort, there is another phase to set in our back-ground, that is the relation between those who invest, those who direct and manage, and those who, under that direction and supervision, engage in the cooperative task of production. There cannot be, as I see it, any real conflict of interest in regard to the necessity for production; the conflict arises when you come to divide the proceeds of that production. (Hear, hear) Now, I assume as I proceed that I am talking to men who believe, no matter what position in life they occupy that private property is essential to the perpetuation of individual liberty. (Applause) We hear much discussion today about "the dollar being above the man", about the rights of property being considered more than the rights of persons. Well, that is a very loose way of talking, after all, because there is no such thing as a "right of property". There is the right of an individual to property; and as one of the few great truths that came out of modern Russia I offer that observation of a great Russian-"that liberty and property entered the but of the Serf together". You cannot think of a free man unless you can think of a man who can be secure in the reward of his efforts; (applause) that what he has struggled for is his, and it is not only his for his own use, but in accordance with the exercise of social virtue he shall be able to save it and to transmit it to those dependent upon him, that they may have, God willing, a better lot in life than he. (Applause) So, when I talk of liberty, I am thinking about a condition in which free men work out their material salvation in accordance with their conception of their own interest, subject to the common restraint imposed upon all in equal terms. For I refer to liberty, and not to license; I speak "of fire on the hearth, and not fire on the floor". I am not seeking a world of economic equality nor am I striving to find or make one in which there is no capital; if I were, I should go to China, for China has no capital, and its 400,000,000 people-local, insulated and isolated, are the common object of the world's charity. I am talking of a society state in which men are going to co-operate to produce and sustain and develop it.
I say there are three elements that must be considered. One is the use of the accumulated savings of everybody, little or big. To talk about the capitalist as a rich man is a misnomer. A capitalist is any man who has more that he needs for his immediate sustinence. (Hear, hear) I suppose the first capitalist must have been the savage who, when he was one bunch of bananas ahead of his needs, had the time to sit down and fashion a fish-hook or shape a spear, and then he had a tool or weaponand he could not have either unless he had enough subsistence ahead to take the time to produce either. (Hear, hear) Capital and labour produce we are told. Do they? Well, Capital, in the sense that it is accumulation over what is necessary for subsistence, takes many forms. Some are material, and some are immaterial. Does capital produce? Or, is it capital employed under direction that produces ? If capital is mere money, there is a million dollars in a Toronto bank. If labour is the mere capacity to work, there are a thousand men looking for employment. Can the million dollars and the thousand men produce anything? Not until somebody employs the one to make the other fruitful under systematic direction and supervision. (Loud applause) Without the intervening capacity to manage and direct, neither one can be made helpful to the other, nor fruitful to society.
Now, when they produce, what is to happen? Are you to have permission to form monopolies of an artificial nature which shall restrain some managers from engaging in the competition of production, or which shall permit managers to suppress competition by agreements or combinations with others by which prices are lowered, for example, if you like, until a competitor is destroyed, and having been destroyed, the cost of destruction is paid by the public to the manager who now possesses the monopoly? Men may safely tolerate but two kinds of monopoly-the one with which we reward originality for invention, or that other which is built upon and lives permanently by sustained merit. (Applause) Now, monopoly, and restraint of trade, to destroy fair competition by unfair methods has been against the public policy of your people and mine always. For thirty years in the United States our legislatures, national and state, have sought to reach and punish or dissolve these antisocial combinations. But while the eye of the law-maker was fixed on this kind of monopoly, another has sprung up.
And what is that? That is the monopoly of the opportunity for employment. Now, what is the monopoly of the opportunity for employment? Well, I will ask a more distinguished man than myself to define it. Mr. Gompers, the President of the American Federation of Labour, tells us that there is a "union shop", which it is the desire of organized labour to establish and to sustain. And what is it? "The union shop is a shop in which none but union workers are employed and in which there is a definite agreement between the employers and workers as an organized unit. In union shops non-union workers sometimes are employed, but only when union men cannot be had. Most agreements provide that when no union workers are to be had non-union workers may be employed, with the proviso that they make application for union membership within a reasonable period of time".
Let me add another equally authoritative definition. The Bridgemen's Magazine of an earlier date, the organ of the Ironworkers' Union, adds this commentary, "If the employer will not yield without coercion and the union is unable to coerce him, then unionists as well as non-unionists can obtain employment, and the combination is known as an open shop." An open shop, then, is one in which a man can be employed whether he belongs to a union or not. That is the popular phrase. I will go further. I say it is a shop in which a man is employed without arbitrary discrimination (hear, hear) as to whether he belongs to a union or not. Now, the first thing our definition confronts is a form of attack that is constantly made which is not to meet the principle itself or to say it is wrong or it is right-because upon that platform I think the gentlemen quickly get out of court. But sneeringly to remark, "We don't object to your open shop, if that is what it is, but there is no such animal. We won't discuss your principles, we question your motives". Very well, then, if the principles are safe we can lay them aside and examine the motives of their proponents.
Who first demanded arbitrary discrimination? I cannot say in your country, but I can trace very easily in the United States the first declaration made in 1903 by the Executive Committee of the American Federation of Labour, after Mr. Roosevelt's famous decision, in what is known as the "Miller" case. Miller was an employee of the Government printing office. He was dismissed from the public service because he had lost his membership in his union during some dispute between himself and the organization. Complaint was then made to President Roosevelt by the Executive Committee of the American Federation after the Civil Service Commission of the United States had returned the man to employment on the ground that the cause of discharge was not sufficient for dismissal from public employment. The Executive Committee made the point that the Government must recognize in public employment-or should, as a matter of public policy-that when a man lost his membership in a union of his craft he was disqualified from public service. Mr. Roosevelt made the famous answer, "I can no more discriminate in the public service between a union and a non-union man than between Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Gentile". (Applause) Whereupon the Executive Committee of the American Federation made its statement to the public, in November, 1903, "Abraham Lincoln said, 'This union cannot endure half union and half non-union, and we call upon all working men to discourage and prevent in every possible way the deteriorating influence of the open shop".
Now, obviously, in public employment there is no room for discrimination between citizens. But in private employment, what is proposed if that is to become the established form? It is a monopoly of opportunity for employment, and a monopoly that must be sustained by monopoly methods. That is, it must prevent the unorganized worker from obtaining access to the position. That means that where the number of those in an organization is comparatively small, in comparison with those who seek employment, there must be some form of coercion employed in order to protect the shop against the deteriorating competition of the non-unionist.
That may take a variety of forms. It does not mean merely physical violence although, God knows, we have had enough of that. It means in the first instance the use of collective power of organization to compel the acceptance of the condition which it undertakes to create; and that collective power is usually exercised through the direct or sympathetic strike and the boycott. The former is a systematic cessation of employment by those who make a demand, in order to enforce it, accompanied, it always seems to me, to make the description complete, by the endeavour to dissuade others from taking the places which are vacated. Now, that dissuasion may be legal or illegal, moral or immoral, but so long as it is mere dissuasion in legal or moral terms we have no complaint to make against it. But the moment you undertake to compel men to become a party to your monopoly by any form of compulsion through endeavouring to cut off beneficial intercourse between the object of your attack and others who desire and are willing to have business relations with him, that moment you cross the deadline of social permission, and undertake to coerce another to bend his will to yours.
Now, certainly one of the most fundamental rights we possess is the right, having chosen our occupation or method of livelihood, to undertake to have dealings with others who are desirous or willing to have dealings with us. For all men live and move, be they great or small, and no matter what their position in society, by the exchange of their services or their produced commodity with somebody else. The agreement by which that exchange is effected we call a contract The right to establish and maintain the relationship we call the right of free contract. We do not get anywhere by sneering at it or saying workmen are not "economically equal" in the making of such contracts, because, gentlemen, if you reflect a moment you will perceive that condition is not peculiar to the employment relation. It is just as true between buyers and sellers of all degree, between borrowers and lenders, between landlords and tenants, between all persons in every state of life who come in contact with each other. Not alone are they not economically equal in their respective possessions but when men undertake to exchange, each wants something more than something he has got. It is not a mere matter of differing wealths. It is not a matter of comparative desire and restraint. Some men want things more intensely than others. Some want them when they want them, some are willing to pay more than others. That is true not only of material possessions but in all forms of social want and desire. Economic inequality which rests in all can only be destroyed by the destruction of liberty. By taking from somebody what he has and giving to somebody else who has not, through the power of the state. In order to create-what? A temporary equality that could not last overnight, for just as soon as the parties began to exercise their freedom in exchanging with each other the old inequalities would crop up. They would be accentuated by differences in bargaining skill and power, in character, in self-restraint; for the abstemious individual denies himself for the moment to gain a greater good he sees in the future. (Applause) That is the difference between the waster and the saver.
But we are told, "If you don't accept the shop you deny the greatest need of this hour." What is that? "Collective bargaining." If "the worker to strengthen his bargaining power must get together in groups to which each man contributes all his own strength and thus enhances the interest and power of each individual in the driving of the bargain he is thus equal to the employer. If you don't admit that, then the labour organization is worthless, for it is useless to say you believe in unions and the organization of workingmen to defend their interests, if you deny them the exercise of that collective power." Is that assertion correct? It is true the right of association is a natural and inherent right recognized by every civilized people; but it is not an absolute right nor does it dominate all other rights. What is the purpose of the organization, and what are its methods? More than that, the right of association in any individual does not override the right of every other individual. It must live with other rights. Nor is it merely an affirmative right. The right of association is not only the right to get into an organization, it is also the right to stay out of it. (Hear, hear, and loud applause)
Now, if a man is not free to keep out of an organization as well as to go into it, you have denied him the most important part of his liberty. More than that, having formed your organization, what follows? Have you obtained a license to deal with every other man collectively, whether he wants so to deal with you or not? If that be true of the labour union, why is it not true of the corporation? If you form a corporation and associate a number of men to engage in business to produce and sell a commodity, has the corporation obtained any power over every other person in the community which compels them to deal with it? On the contrary, it has only created a collective entity which has the right to engage, on proper terms in the production and sale of its commodity or service for the good of the public, and to compete for their buying power. Hear, hear) If a lawful organization produces something better than anybody else, men will seek to deal with it. Whenever the term "union man" in a community spells "efficient man" there will be the greatest competition among employers to deal with the union exclusively, for it will represent the thing they most anxiously seek to advance their own interest. (Hear, hear, and loud applause)
Furthermore, let us not forget that the abstract right to organize is not the same as the right when concretely exercised. That is one of the confusing points in this discussion. Say we form an organization of workers, does that establish an obligation on the part of every employer to deal with it? Every man has an abstract right to marry; but has he a right to marry any particular woman? Not without that lady's individual consent. (Laughter) It is the failure to recognize the difference between the abstract right to marry and the concrete exercise of the right that causes hemorrhages of type on the front page of leading journals. (Laughter)
But what is "collective bargaining?" It is a phrase of fixed meaning in the vocabulary of trade unionism. "Collective bargaining," in the trade union sense, is dealing exclusively with the union through its officers and employing only its members. "Collective bargaining" in the broader sense is any collective arrangement or dealing between an employer and employees, or between groups of employers and groups of employees.
Is the "open shop" incompatible with collective bargaining? It is incompatible with an agreement to include only the members of a given organization and to exclude all nonmembers. It is not incompatible with group agreements either with labour organizations or with the employees of particular plants as the unit of self-interest and production, or of groups of employers dealing with groups of employees provided that the employment is not confined to the members of the association. In other words, it is not compatible with the monopoly of the opportunity for employment; but it is compatible with any form of collective agreement without the monopoly characteristic. (Applause)
Do such things exist? Well, I can point to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in my own country as an immediate example. It concluded an arrangement the other day with its train service men by which 55,000 of them through 378 representatives elected from the employees of the road, sat with the managers and entered upon a collective agreement; and that is but one of many similar arrangements.
In my opinion-and it is merely an opinion-from a long look at the operations of a collective agreement in the United States, corporations employing men on a large scale are everywhere experimenting with collective bargaining. They are dealing with unions; they are dealing with their own employees; they are dealing with their own employees and with unions; and to my mind social progress in the employment relation goes fastest where the field of experiment is widest. ' Not only that, but it has to be worked out in terms of the particular industry, and the plant. There is no such thing as a standard pink pill for each pale plant. Every plant has its own peculiaritites, every manager his own problems. Moreover the capacity of different managers to deal with individuals and groups differs just as much as the capacity of different men to make friends and hold them. (Applause) You cannot put every establishment in a Procrustean mold. Nay, more, I say on the broadest grounds of public policy it is incompatible with social progress to undertake to fit all production into one type of employment relationship. Free and varied experiment sincerely and sympathetically carried on will conduce most to practical progress in right relations between management and men in terms of their spinal task.
When the United States entered the war, the investigation of the Naval Consulting Board showed 18,654 plants in the United States capable of munition production on a large scale; of that number substantially 10 percent were union shops. In the great fundamental industries 1,750 establishments showed 4 per cent. of union shops. That was our industrial status as we entered. That was the condition that enabled us to be the arsenal of the allied cause in the war; and thank God, we found our part before it was too late. (Applause)
What was the experience of Great Britain? Great Britain was highly organized, especially in the metal trades and ship-building, and all the fundamental munition industries. Great Britain was no sooner in the war than Mr. Lloyd George, then Minister of Munitions, negotiated the famous Treasury agreement of May, 1915, by which the trade unions of Great Britain, through representatives, agreed that for the period of the war they would abandon their characteristic restrictions and permit the dilution of female and non-union labour. (Hear, hear) There is no more pathetic or tragic spectacle in the history of the war than the now Prime Minister of Great Britain pleading with the Federated Trade Unions on Christmas night, 1916, "For God's sake, gentlemen, keep your agreement and abandon your restrictions-to do so will make a difference of 30 percent to 200 percent in production necessary for national defence. I cannot go back to the troops and tell them that British workmen won't abandon their restrictions to keep their soil free from the foot of an alien enemy." (Applause)
There is the issue and the demonstration on the scale of nations. Now, I say that economically there must be an open shop, without arbitrary discrimination. Do not misunderstand me; I do not say there shall not be discrimination in employment, for rational selection in employment is the foundation of success, just as is discrimination in life, in the selection of everything; but I mean there shall be no arbitrary discrimination against men because of their economic faith.
I say that economically, human experience under which the producing world of Canada and the United States has grown from nothing into what it is, shows that this development has come under conditions in which men had free terms of employment. In which, under the pressure of life, they worked out their temporal salvation. "Oh, but" you tell me, finally-"you forget that production has changed; that men no longer work side by side with the manager or employer; it is no longer a handful of men under one chief; it is thousands of men engaged in various tasks of production." Yes, that is true; but you make just as great a mistake if you try to think out this problem in an extreme illustration of that kind, as if you endeavour to think it out in the lowest denominator of work. The United States Steel Corporation does not represent the conditions in which production is had in the United States, any more than three men laboring on the street corner for a small contractor represent the conditions of construction in the world.
Take your own figures in Canada and compare them with ours. 36,000 plants, employing 680,000 men with an average per plant of 19 employees. In the United States the latest census will show something like 300,000 plants engaged in industrial production, with an average employment of 25 men to the plant. It will further show that the plants in the United States employing in excess of 1,000 men are but one-third of one percent of the industrial establishments of the United States, and the parallel holds true of Canada. (Applause) We arrive nowhere either by using the United States Steel Corporation on one side or a contracting carpenter dealing with a union of 260,000 members on the other. Neither are typical or significant of the general or average condition.
Further, Sir, there is another consideration that may not be overlooked. All history and experience warns us that men may not be divided into employers and employees. They are human beings-(hear, hear)-and the first obligation that rests upon a manager is the obligation to know his own men (hear, hear)--to deal with his own men in justice, sympathy and understanding. (Loud applause) That is not merely the suggestion of experienced supervision, because you cannot get productive success without it. It is the counsel of human feeling and understanding in the terms of that kindly and canny Scot of the "Bonnie Brier Bush" who advised, "You have got to do your own loving." Every employer must establish his own personal contracts with his own men. The capacity to establish and sustain such relations is the crucial test of management qualification today, when responsible direction in competition with highly systematized and military organizations of workingmen must practically demonstrate to its own employees, that more is gained through intelligent than organized and stimulated antagonism. (Applause) Experience demonstrates that the possession of monopoly power inevitably tempts the selfish use of monopoly strength. That has been the story of every artificial monopoly created upon the management side of production and distribution. Permit business men to control, combine to restrain, suppress or destroy the freedom of competing trade and traders and the public meets contracted production lowered in quality, and raised in price by manipulated distribution. Allow any combination of firms or corporations to determine who shall enter business and upon what terms they shall make or sell and you have licensed an economic despotism. (Hear, hear)
Now, just as sure as, on the other side of the scale, you tolerate a monopoly of opportunity for employment you authorize the private issuance of a license to live. You stimulate a succession of demands predicated on the unfortunate belief that possessing the power to stop production you can ask what you please, without realizing that you cannot take out unless you put in, you cannot participate except in terms of contribution. (Applause) For that, in the long run, is Nature's own law. More than that, you find today that the chief resistive agents of economic adjustment are the most highly organized trades. Fortified by power they reject service as the test of deserved reward.
This condition is well illustrated by the determined and effective opposition of the Building Trade Unions of the great cities of the United States and the powerful railway unions to any wage modification, despite the now plainly demonstrated decline of the living costs upon which the present high rates were predicated. They very properly desire to participate in the benefits of price liquidation, but decline to make any contribution to the result.
The building trades organizations in particular demonstrate very clearly the inevitable result of monopoly control of opportunity for employment through agreement. The inquiry of the Lockwood Committee of New York City and of a similar body in Chicago reveals the effect upon public interest of contracts between great groups of employers and their employees, through which the latter receives an exclusive right to be employed and the former a reciprocal control of material and construction conditions. One monopoly is exchanged for the other and the public pays the cost.
This condition in one form or another exists in all the larger cities of the United States in which the closed shop is established in the building trades by joint agreement. It seems, too, to answer two suggestions for the solution of all labour troubles that steadily float upon the surface of this discussion. The first, that they can all be settled by arbitration. The second, that the vital thing is for the employer and employee to get together. The "principle" of agreement, it is said, "is of secondary importance." No sensible man can minimize the value of an appeal to reason in all forms of dispute, but the inevitable question toward which our whole discussion of today has been tending must then be inevitably asked. That is, what principles and what policy shall guide the arbitrator? The means of arbitration are but its mechanism as the officers of a court are but its form. Can you think of a court without a law? Can you conceive a judge without a principle of decision? It but applies to disputed questions of fact and right, the principles which exist to guide its conduct and make the theory of law which it represents effective. Whatever, therefore, may be said for conciliation, the means of arbitration are valueless until the principles of arbitration are established. Nor can it be possible that your country or mine can apply to employment relations any other guiding rule than the fundamentals of individual rights and opportunity upon which their respective institutions rest. Again we are told: "Let the representatives of employer and employee get together and put their feet under the same table, and agreement inevitably follows." But, gentlemen, has the public no interest in the terms of their contract? Are the parties to determine to their mutual satisfaction the price of their peace, without regard to the social interest? Brindell and the crooked building trade employers of the city of New York had their feet under the same table, but where were their hands? The public wants industrial peace no less than employer and employee, but it must be upon terms which follow the principles of the society in which we all live and not the unrestrained selfish interest of private groups. The American people will never pay blackmail to corporations or labor unions or any combination of the two.
Furthermore, I ask you to consider whether in your opinion you can safely standardize all employment relations. Each industry, indeed, each establishment, has its own conditions and circumstances. Quite apart from technical problems, there exists the always modifying influence of human equations in management, men and place. Enduring relations must recognize these variations of fact. No cap fits all heads. No coat fits all backs. No establishment, business or industry can be forced into a mold and conducted with individual success or to social advantage. I believe the particular not less than the general interest is served by every sincere effort to find the form of individual or collective relationship which best fits the terms of particular production. Out of such intelligent experiment must come an increasing number of common denominators, capable of flexible application to differing circumstances of production and distribution.
In conclusion, we cannot but note the contribution to this discussion from the newspapers of this morning. It seems to epitomize the whole argument against any form of organization or relationship in industry predicated upon arbitrary discrimination. Your press reports that yesterday a committee of the Federated Unions of Quebec waited upon the Dominion Minister of Labour and petitioned for separate representation in some approaching industrial conference. The dispatch announces that the Minister of Labour called the attention of the petitioners to the fact that representation in such conference was allotted to the International Unions and remarked that in his opinion nothing could be "socially more dangerous" than a workmen's union which undertook to discriminate "between members and non-members upon the basis of religious creed."
Personally, I do not know the facts of the matter, but I call your attention to the important principle asserted by a Minister of Government and I ask; if it is socially dangerous to establish and operate an organization of workmen which undertakes to exclude men from opportunity for employment because they fail or refuse to accept the religious creed of the members of such organization, can it be any less dangerous to approve a union of workers which undertakes to compel the exclusion from opportunity for employment of all workers who do not embrace the economic creed of their organization ?
If we can abandon for a moment our conventional viewpoint on the labour question and think in that field as we would of similar conduct in religious relations, what would we say if organizations of Jew or Gentile, of Catholic or Protestant, of Baptist, Presbyterian or Methodist, undertook to exclude those who rejected their creed from earning a livelihood until they did. Picture, if you will, organizations of the faithful, picketing the church or the synagogue of the nonconformist, following him to his home and urging upon both him and the members of his family the faith of the organized flock, or in their zeal going a step further and systematically endeavouring to prevent the object of their solicitude from obtaining employment or selling his wares until he had, as they sincerely believed, assured the salvation of his soul by the acceptance of their creed.
Intolerable as that may seem, a much more powerful argument could be made for the practice than for the identical measures by which conversion to the creed of organized labour is daily compelled. Through centuries of religious persecution, the head of the Church who might likewise be the head of the State, outlawed the heretic, confiscated his property and destroyed his person. It could be argued that this was of small consequence if it assured his eternal salvation, for "what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul? But, sir, if enlightened society contemplates with disapproval the religious organization which, blazing a pathway of eternal salvation, declares "embrace this or ye shall not live," what shall it say of an economic organization which, fashioning a pathway of temporal salvation, seeking the comfort of the body, not the safety of the soul, declares "Follow this or ye shall not work"? (Great laughter and applause)
A cordial vote of thanks was tendered the speaker of the day.